Two weeks ago I attended a five day "Enlightenment Intensive" at a beautiful Buddhist retreat center in Washington.
Did I get "enlightened"? If you mean, did I completely dissolve into nothingness? No, I did not. If you mean, "did I have a direct experience of the truth of who I am? Yes, I did. It was sweet and simple, and changed my life. It made me laugh out loud.
The five day retreat was designed to be a complete immersion into contemplating the question, "Who am I?" - twenty-four hours a day. It was nine hours of intense dyad work, talking and listening openly and honestly with our partners at our deepest level. The rest of the hours were spent in "Noble Silence" with only the question. I ate with it, walked with it, worked, slept and dreamed with it.
Now I am home and back in the studio. I'm bringing the contemplation into my studio with my paintings as my dyad partners.
I've always worked with my paintings are partners and listened to what they want to be, so working with a more structured contemplative approach is going to be a subtle change. I'm really interested in seeing what happens.
The painting above is the first to come out of this new practice. It's called, "After That, This".
More to come, always.
I've been doing yoga almost every day since the beginning of the year. I think being upside down in all those downward dogs is having a powerful effect on me, because I've been changing direction in many areas of my life.
For example, for years I've been hosting creative/spiritual circles in my journey space, but I've recently realized I'm done with that. The energy I was directing outward in organizing and facilitating these circles is now moving into my paintings
As a result, my goals as a painter and for my paintings are changing. I'm moving more inward, and intentionally slowing the painting process down.
This painting that I'm working on right now is helping me do that.
This is the 48 x 48 inch "Marriage Is an Experiment" painting I painted last year. It had evolved from a previous version, "The Seasons of A Marriage". Now it's not even a "marriage" painting anymore. It too is going in a different direction.
If I keep a daily yoga practice for the rest of the year, I wonder what else will happen... Do you have a regular yoga practice? Has it changed your creative/artistic life? If so, I'd love to hear about it.
The seas are rising.
The seer is blind.
The earthquake comes in the dark of night.
Let's hold hands and take a stance.
Grandmother is coming -
Might as well dance.
For the past few months I've been occupying three states of mind.
1. I feel overwhelmed, sad, and exhausted. Bleh. I see too much bad news, bad-intentioned people, and too many important issues that need attention.
2. I feel like a warrior-goddess, ready to march into the unknown, kick some ass, and make a change in the world.
3. I feel capable, loving and creative. I know who I am, and what I have to do. I paint, read, write and do what needs to be done.
I am painting from each of these three spaces. The intensity of our times has led me to experiment with simplicity and constraint. My color palette is more subdued. My imagery is less refined and more gestural. There is one over-arching theme about relationships and taking care of one another. Because my shows for the year are all set up, I can concentrate on painting for them. I'm doing less in the studio and experiencing an expansion of freedom and possibility in my painting.
To see more of my new paintings you can follow my journey on Instagram@samyakyamauchi, or check out one of my shows this years.
2016 has not been the worst year of my life, but I am happy to say "goodbye" to it with this colorful, two fingered wave.
Dear Great Imagination,
I know there is truth and good and beauty here, and also terrible ongoing problems and suffering. Please let me grow big enough to hold all the justice, caring, courage, compassion, love and magic needed to transform the bizarro, incomprehensable, heartbreaking things we have created into something that is better for all of us. In 2017 Help me remember who I am and what I came here to be and do, and let me inspire others to do the same.
So be it.
Sometimes my artist insecurities crop up and tell me that I shouldn't post my paintings so often on social media. They say, "People are getting tired of seeing your stuff."
I start to doubt my motivation for showing my work, fret about what other people think, and then get annoyed that I am fretting about it... I quiet my insecurities by telling them them I don't think I post that much. I don't overload anyone's news feed. I tell them, "People like seeing my art." I also let the insecurities know that I know it's just them talking. After that, they settle down and wait for another opportunity to mess with me.
I post often because I paint a lot, and I paint a lot of paintings that I really love.
My paintings resonate at a very heartfelt level, and I want to share that with people. There's a lot of ugliness in the world - anger, hatred, suffering, dark scary stuff. I'm trying to counter some of the awfulness all around, by being the most magical, powerful version of myself that I can be, because I know change in the world has to begin with me. Painting is one way that I communicate that version of who I am.
The painting above is one of my intuitive-intentional paintings on paper. It came into being as a result of a morning walk. When I go for my gratitude walks, I ask for an intention to hold for the day. That morning, my intention was "Tell the truth of who you are." When I got in the studio I wrote it on the paper, and then this painting was born.
The Truth of Who I Am
Bigger than you might realize
Insight, Foresight, Near-sight, no Far-sight
An offering of love and wisdom
The ladder leads down-up
This painting is called "Strong And Silent". It's about the power of just being who you are.
When my husband and I were on our road trip to Banff recently, something happened to my eyes. For days they had been feeling tired and burning and super sensitive to the light. I was wearing sunglasses over my sunglasses and feeling amazed by the chrome-filter-like colors I was seeing. Then one night, I had a vision.
My eyes were closed, and I was giving my husband some Reiki (Universal Love) when I saw my whole life story and the meaning behind all the steps I have taken to get to this point. I saw who I am and what I am to do with the rest of my life, and surprise, surprise... it isn't painting.
Of course, painting is a part of it. I would never give up the solitude of being in my studio, the companionship of the magic of the painting process, or the fun of seeing and being in love with the finished pieces. Being in my studio is where I connect with what is so important to me: Creation, Communication and Love. Which brings me back to what I am to do with the rest of my life.
It's actually not about "doing". It's about "be-ing". I've spent my decades doing all the things I needed to do to get to this place where I can now just be who I am at my deepest core - a powerful, magical, female creator, communicator and seer who, with the help of my companions, mind, heart and soul, can be a source of inspiration to others. I''ve know that about myself for some time, but what I didn't know was the second part of the vision. In the second part I saw that if I will fully embody who I am, 24/7, then everything in my life will rightfully fall into place.
Considering we live in a world of troubling projections of fear and ignorance, embodying my deepest core self 24/7 sounds challenging. At the same time it also sounds really fun to live in integrity with a personal prophecy and see things fall into place with less effort. Making things right in myself makes room for things to get right for other people, so what choice do I have except to go for it?
Since I had this awakening vision, colors and light are brighter and clearer than before. I feel more at ease - my general sense of anxiety has lessened. My eyes are still bothering me some, but I understand now that my vision in expanding in new ways. This will undoubtedly will have a significant impact on my painting. I've been feeling like a big new shift is coming to my painting, so now I just get to watch it unfold. How cool will that be?
Five years ago, my husband and I went to Lake Tahoe. Our lodging was literally sitting on the side of a mountain. High on that mountain, I received a deep knowing that what I had come into the world to do with my life, up to that point was complete. That karma was complete. It was a startling discovery and made me ask myself -
"Where do I go from here? "
Here's what I did:
1. I started my retirement from teaching.
2. I started re-thinking what I wanted from a long-term marriage.
3. I started thinking of myself as an "artist", and hoped to make a part-time living as one.
4. I made the last glass mosaics I wanted to make.
5. I started painting.
A couple weeks ago we took off on a road trip to Banff. I'd always wanted to go there, but hadn't been there before. A week ago yesterday, my Lake Tahoe experience was revisited. This time, high in the Canadian Rockies, I received a crystal clear understanding of the story of my life, accompanied by an introduction to how the next phase of my life journey can go.
It can go like this:
1. I use all the wisdom and magic that I've been given.
2. I understand the role my husband and I play in each other's lives, appreciate and enjoy it.
3. Instead of making a part-time living as an artist, I make a life that I love.
Going to the mountains gave me a new perspective from which to see a bigger picture of who I am and how everything can fall into place to create the life I want to live. Where this takes my painting, I don't know, but I know it will be somewhere I haven't been to yet. I'll be traveling.
We have an '87 Volkswagon Westfalia. Years back, we had been on the look out for an affordable Westfalia in good condition and not having much luck. The closest one we found was one hundred fifty miles away in Sisters, Oregon. My husband thought we would have to go there and look at it, but I told him one would show up closer to home. The next morning, there it was, advertised in the paper, about three miles away from our house. We went to look at it and guess what? It's name was "Sam". Sold! We changed her name to "Grace" because of how she came to us, and now our whole family calls her "Gracie."
Last week we loaded "Gracie" up for a few days of camping on the Lewis River in Washington. I took my paints and an easel, and my husband took his guitar and his camera. We set up camp and spent three days hanging out in the woods. When we arrived, I was grumpy and distracted and anti-social. When we packed up to leave and come home, I was relaxed and much happier.
When we got back from our camping trip, I got busy, because I'm a busy, goal-oriented person... I worked on my website. I worked to solve an issue with the photo book I'm making. I did some painting, resized photos for my albums,, and submitted to an art show. I went to the frame shop, did some work for PDX Open Studios, and I delivered show cards. Today I cleaned and rearranged my studio, and met with a collector.
Now, I'm writing this blog and thinking about how nice it was to be out in the woods, surrounded by trees, with nothing that had to be done. I'm thinking about making time to do nothing more often, to do what I do when I go camping - sit around, think about stuff, notice stuff.
I think doing more of nothing will bring a whole new dimension to making art. It seems like it will open up a whole new space for the creative process to grow into. The possibilities are crazy good to ponder... so I must go now to sit on my front porch for a few minutes and let my body soak up all potential that nothing will bring.
Living and painting in the land of Portland, Oregon, and writing about it here...